Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Gaelic Roundtable for April: Veneration

This is my second post participating in The Gaelic Roundtable blogging project, April's subject is Worship. The Roundtable asked:
"Which Gaelic Gods do you Worship? Do you worship your Ancestors or otherwise participate in Ancestor Veneration and related practices? What about the Gaelic Heroes? The Fae? How long have you Worshiped them? Who came first? Last? Second? How did you establish your relationships with them, and how important is that relationship to you? How integral is that relationship to your spirituality? Your religion? Your every day life?"
As far as my own personal practice goes, I tend to shy away from the term "worship" ; while perhaps just a semantics game, I associate worship with coming from a place of grovelling or fear. This might be just a holdover from my Christian upbringing. Instead I would like to think that my devotion comes from a place of hospitality and respect, so I prefer to use "honour" or "venerate" in my approach to the Gods, Spirits and Ancestors.

My relationships with The Three play a central role both in my faith and in my daily life. At our hearth shrine I do a small devotional every morning with an offering, prayer and candle lighting {kindling} and do another small one in the evening with a prayer and extinguishing the candle flame {smooring}. There are special dates in which I honour specific individuals and during certain activities I will make offerings and ask for blessings as well.  

The Gods

In general I honour all the Gods of the Gaels, however, there is a handful of deities that I am especially devoted to, whom I call "household deities". My relationships with them are pretty much all different from each other, some being stronger in certain seasons or when I am doing certain activities. Some I have actively sought out, while others it seems that they have "tapped me on the shoulder".


 From the best of my memory, Brigid was the very first Goddess that I did any research on and try to summon back when I was first exploring Paganism. For quite a few years my approaching her was limited to Imbolc and some petitioning, and it wasn't until after I started delving into Celtic Recon that it started to go beyond that. That was some time ago and her along with another Goddess below was the first that I became devoted to. As time went on I eventually became one of her flamekeepers, which I have been doing for two or three years. During every cycle I make offerings to her and of course at Imbolc and Latha na Caillich. For my own life I feel that she oversees keeping of the home, healing, protection, relationships and women's fertility/sexuality.


Prior to subscribing to hard polytheism I honoured a generic "Mare Goddess", whose faces included Macha, Epona and Rhiannon. So, my relationship with Macha continued on once becoming a Gaelic Polytheist and became deeper, richer. I have always had a great love for horses, so a part of my devotion to her is to do my part to end horse abuse and slaughter. Corvids are also my buddies. During Lughnasadh and Michaelmas I make special offerings to her and for myself I think that she aids in divination, sovereignty, abundance, justice and protection.


Besides honouring a "Mare Goddess" as an eclectic Pagan, I also paid homage to a generic "Antlered Woodland God" {think Herne or Cernunnos,}, so when I came across info about Flidais for the first time my interest was piqued. After doing a wee bit more research I made some offerings to her and have built the connection over time. Besides deer and cattle, I also associate robins and foxes with her. During Bealtaine and prior to doing wildcrafting or going out in the bush I will make offerings to Flidais. For me she helps as a catalyst with Nature Spirits, and also helps with environmentalism, bushcraft/wildcrafting. lust/sexuality, and beauty.


Having a keen interest in plants and herbal healing, it was only a matter of time before I tried to establish a relationship with Airmed. She plays an essential role in all of my gardening, working with plants, and all healing {both emotionally and physically}. Being someone who has faced abuse I felt a strong connection with her own story. I associate bees with her and therefore is an especially sacred pollinator. Offerings are made to her on Midsummer and during any herb harvest and working with plants. 
An Cailleach

This is the one Goddess out of the group that I definitely feel was "lurking in the shadows". By the time she popped up I had already heard about her, but was quite intimidated to try to connect with her. After some really intense dreams and other happenings, I was certain who was there but was quite bewildered as to why she was there. For about a year I did more research and asked other Gaelic Polytheists about their experiences with her. It wasn't until after I felt that I learned as much as I could that way that I apprehensively tried to make a formal connection {more about that can be read here.} To be honest she still does kind of intimidate me, but at times she can have a warmth about her. My connection to her is twofold, being both seasonal and due to my occupation. In the winter months she is ever present, and I make special offerings to her during Samhain, Yule, and Latha na Caillich. I also turn to her for insights on how to deal with the hardships of aging, as I work in long term care with the elderly. 


Ancestor reverence is something I practiced prior to becoming a Gaelic Polytheist, but became even more important to me when my maternal grandparents passed away. When still living in North Bay I would regularly go to the small family cemetery to visit. Now that I am a few hundred miles away, I have been scoping out the various Irish memorials here in town to leave offerings. I do keep an Ancestral shrine in my home where I make regular offerings, and hold special rituals dedicated to my Ancestors during Samhain, Remembrance Day, Christmas, and on  certain birthdays and anniversaries.

Spirits/The Good Folk

Besides being a polytheist, I am an animist as well, so I essentially believe that everything has a spirit. To me trees have spirits, the stones do, animals do, and are just as important as humans. As well, I believe that sometimes beings may be attached to a certain place, sometimes a body of water or piece of land or a building. These spirits {nature spirits/genii loci/The Good Folk} I feel are due the same amount of respect as the Gods or Ancestors and give them the same hospitality, although my approach to them is sometimes different

On top of keeping indoor and outdoor shrines, there were certain places where I would leave regular offerings and act as a steward of sorts. These were generally places that I would wildcraft from and do rituals at. As of right now I am still getting know my new area and the spirits that are here. So, a work in progress. ;) 


If you are a Gaelic Polytheist, why not join us at The Gaelic Roundtable? I am looking forward to the posts of the other contributors!



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